Judge: Belgium should return IS-children immediately

The Belgian state should do everything to return six children of Islamic State fighters to Belgium from Syria, a Belgian court decided on Wednesday.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Belgian state should do everything to return six children of Islamic State (IS) fighters to Belgium from Syria, a Belgian court decided on Wednesday.

Until now, no European country has taken back IS children or women.

The two IS widows, Bouchra Abouallal and Tatiana Wielandt, both 25 years old, along with their children, were evacuated from Syria in 2013. According to the Belgian court, they should also be returned.

After giving birth in Belgium, however, both returned with their children to Syria. In March 2018, they were sentenced in absentia for up to five years in prison. 

In July, the Belgian court said Brussels was not obliged to take back the six children of two Belgian IS fighters currently in Syria.

However, on Wednesday, the judge ruled that the women and children are in an “emergency situation”and that the Belgian state must do everything to return them to the country.

Both the mothers and their offspring have the right to be repatriated because of child and human rights law which state that minors cannot be separated from their parents.

However, this does not mean that Belgium is obliged to repatriate the children since Belgium has no jurisdiction in Syria.

The court said Brussels must do everything to establish contracts with local authorities through diplomats, and provide travel and identity documents to the mothers to secure their travel.

Until now, Belgium and other European states do not want IS women and children to return. There is a fear they are still indoctrinated and could carry out attacks in Europe.

The state can appeal against the ruling. If the state takes no action within 40 days, it must pay a penalty of 5,000 euros per day, per child up to a maximum of one million euros.

Peter Knoope, the former Director of the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism in the Netherlands, told Kurdistan 24 that the Dutch government should also bring those women and children back.

“We should not let counter-terrorism interfere with our rule of law. Rule of law should be defended,” he said.

Knoope said the women should face court in the Netherlands. “If there is a reason to face court, they should go on trial. If not, the people are free to do what they want,” he said.

“If you start to demonize people and create the idea that some are not people and should not be treated as human beings, then you are doing exactly what the terrorists are doing.”

US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw American forces from Syria has also affected the future of IS women and children.

The Syrian Kurds fear that IS members could escape if Turkey attacks Syria’s northeast.

“We should not forget that in our prisons there are about 2,622 foreign nationals, including 584 women and 1,248 children from 46 nationalities,” the Co-chair of the Autonomous Administration for North-East of Syria, Abdul Hamid al-Muhabash, said in a press conference on Wednesday.

“We also have 790 prisoners, these are fighters and leaders of IS from 48 foreign nationalities,” he added.

According to Muhabash, if Turkey attacks the Kurdish regions, the situation of IS prisoners may spiral “out of control,” and some may even try to return to their original countries, threatening world peace.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany